Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tongue in Cheek Weekend Cooking - The Gallery of Regrettable Food

The Gallery of Regrettable Food

Author: James Lileks
Publisher/Format: Clarkson Potter (2001)Hardcover, 192 pages 
Subject: Advertising in cookbooks
Genre: humor, cookbook critiques
Source: public library

I laughed so hard, my sides hurt! This is an absolutely SNL-like expose of all that 'interesting' food those of us growing up during the Ozzie and Harriet days experienced in our youth. It is actually difficult to describe or review because it's really the pictures that make the book.  The author has an absolutely smart-ass take on the descriptions, ingredients, and attitudes that can be found tucked into all those food pamphlets our mothers, grandmothers and aunties collected after 'the war.'  I actually have several of these in my personal 'collection' --they were the building blocks of a cookbook collection for the proper 1960's bride.

Lileks' book makes for great weekend browsing although I'd never want to cook anything I saw in there.  And with the exception of the jello items, I don't think my mom ever cooked any of them either.

My personal favorites include Balls on Picks from the booklet "500 Snacks - Bright Ideas for Entertaining"; the chapter about Aunt Jenny explaining the miracle of a product called "Spry" (I think something like Crisco?); and the pictures and comments on "Victory Meat Extenders" - a pamphlet published during WWII featuring "Creamed Brains on Toast", "Tongue Rolls Florentine" and "Ham Shanks and Cabbabe" (described by Lileks as "Pig Ass with the Bones Still in It. Or, perhaps Chunker Cheeks"

The very best is a picture of some sort of pie type casserole from the Good Housekeeping Casserole Book called Monday Pie. Lileks comments:
"The recipe calls for lamb, gravy, and MSG. What an excellent start to the week eh? Fried Strips of albino flesh cunningly blended with Scottish terrier testicles. "
 Hmmm....I was looking for a recipe to use that leftover lamb from our Christmas dinner.  I wonder............


  1. I have really got to read that one! It looks like a hoot! I wonder what it says about me if I find something in the book that sounds as if I would eat it?

  2. I will have to check this out. Lileks (I think it's the same guy) writes for our Mpls paper. And they're often quite funny!

  3. This sounds terrific! Spry was just like Crisco, another brand name. I have my grandmother's recipes from the war and some of them are really outlandish.

  4. Ha ha, this sounds like fun. The recipes you mentioned sound disgusting and priceless.

  5. hey, we actually ate tongue quite often when I was a was tasty.

    of course, you had me at "smart-ass"!

  6. This sounds like a lot of fun!


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